Barry Ritholtz with some good thoughts on what the bailouts hath wrought:

Most people still do not understand what was accomplished with the Bailouts. What helicopter Ben & Co. did — pouring trillions into the banking sector — served only to stave off a secular economic restructuring of the finance sector.

The can was kicked down the road, and their hope was the wild structurally imbalanced economy was allowed to persist.

By comparison, General Motors had gone down a path of bad management, poor products, lack of long term strategy. Their slide into bankruptcy was appropriate; it served to purge terrible management and awful business planning.

However, Banks were not allowed to suffer the fate that all insolvent businesses are supposed to. This was a terrible error, the greatest financial tragedy of the 21st century. That they were allowed to survive mostly intact is the result of the excess influence they have on a corruptible congress and a misguided Federal Reserve.

— Robert Reich with some related thoughts:

The irony is that had there been no bank bailout in 2008 and 2009, no large stimulus, and no extraordinary efforts by the Fed to pump trillions of dollars into the economy, we’d have had another Great Depression. And because it would have sucked almost everyone down with it, the nation would have demanded from politicians larger and more fundamental reforms that might well have lifted everyone, and set America and the world on a more sustainable path toward growth and shared prosperity: A stimulus that financed the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure and alternative energies, single-payer health care, a cap on the size of big banks and resurrection of Glass-Steagall, earnings insurance, an Earned Income Tax Credit that extended into the middle class, and a truly progressive tax coupled with a price on carbon to pay for all of this over the long term.

No one in their right mind would have wished for another Great Depression, of course. But we seem to have got the worst of all worlds. The bank bailout, the stimulus, and the Fed brought us back from the brink just enough to dampen zeal for anything more. As a result, we are now slouching toward a tepid recovery that could just as well fall into a double dip recession, while a large portion of our population suffers immensely.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald focuses on how BP and the government are working hand in hand to stifle press coverage of the Gulf oil catastrophe. He points to a sidebar I missed on that great ProPublica/Frontline story this morning.

A photographer taking pictures for these articles, was detained Friday while shooting pictures in Texas City, Texas.

The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said that shortly after arriving in town, he was confronted by a BP security officer, local police and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. He was released after the police reviewed the pictures he had taken on Friday and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.

The police officer then turned that information over to the BP security guard under what he said was standard procedure, according to Rosenfield.

That’s outrageous. As Greenwald illustrates, with the help of good work by Mother Jones’s Mac McClelland, this is just the latest example of the police and BP using aggressive tactics against journalists.

The very idea that government officials are acting as agents of BP (of all companies) in what clearly seem to be unconstitutional acts to intimidate and impede the media is infuriating. Obviously, the U.S. Government and BP share the same interest — preventing the public from knowing the magnitude of the spill and the inadequacy of the clean-up efforts — but this creepy police state behavior is intolerable. In this latest case, the journalists were not even focused on the spill itself, but on BP’s other potentially reckless behavior with other refineries, and yet there are DHS agents and local police officials acting as BP’s personal muscle to detain, interrogate, and threaten a photographer.
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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.